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Sam Allardyce has to decide whether to stick or twist

Sam Allardyce has decisions to make on how to line-up his Albion side in tonight’s derby.

West Bromwich Albion manager Sam Allardyce
West Bromwich Albion manager Sam Allardyce

The boss sprung a surprise at Chelsea last month when he switched from what had been an effective 4-3-3 formation to a three at the back system.

The reason for that change was to go toe-to-toe with the Blues, who have also been operating with three centre-backs ever since the arrival of Thomas Tuchel as boss.

And that plan worked – with Albion giving themselves an excellent platform in the game before they went on to win it following Thiago Silva’s red card.

The next time the Baggies faced a side playing three at the back was at Leicester almost a fortnight ago. But Allardyce opted against matching up The Foxes that day.

And it’s fair to say they were completely outclassed in a first-half dominated by Brendan Rodgers’ side.

Three-nil down at the break, Allardyce then reverted to three centre-backs with the second-half becoming something of a non-event.

And now the 66-year-old has to decided whether to stick with the 4-3-3 system that saw his side come a whisker away from beating Villa last Sunday or match Nuno Espírito Santo’s 3-4-3.

If Allardyce does decide to go with a 3-5-2, Dara O’Shea will come into the side to partner Semi Ajayi and Kyle Bartley at the heart of the defence.

The Republic of Ireland international was unfortunate to lose his place for the trip to Villa Park.

But a formation change is one way Allardyce can get him back into the side.

The system will also see Matheus Pereira move up front to partner Mbaye Diagne.

The reason Allardyce will probably stck with a 4-3-3 system, however, is that Wolves are only like to field two central midfielders whereas both Chelsea and Leicester like to overload the middle of the park.

Okay Yokuslu, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Conor Gallagher will probably be the midfield three whatever system Allardyce opts for.

But if he does stick to 4-3-3, the big call is who to start on the left with Matt Phillips competing with Callum Robinson.

Phillips offers more energy and discipline – but it is Robinson who is the greater goal threat.

With Adama Traore flanked by Nelson Semedo down Wolves’ right though, it’s likely Phillips will get the nod here.

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